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Estate agent BTW Shiells shows housing market's on the up as it welcomes seven extra staff

Estate agency BTW Shiells has opened a new branch and taken on seven new people as the slow recovery in Northern Ireland's housing market continues.

The new sales and lettings office in Ballyhackamore, east Belfast is now the agency's third residential branch, along with Holywood and south Belfast.

House prices in some parts of Northern Ireland have fallen by up to 60% since the peak of the market in 2007 – but since the beginning of 2013, transactions have been going up and prices stabilising.

In the latest market survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), over 40% of respondents said prices had grown in the three months to October, while 52% said they had stayed the same.

BTW Shiells director Simon Brien said: "Our choice to open our new office in east Belfast is driven by both the demand for property in the area in all price sectors, and to service and build on the current portfolio of resale and new homes that we handle in the area.

"The east Belfast area has been one of the first areas to show strong signs of recovery and growth in the Northern Ireland market.

"Throughout 2013, we have seen stability returning to the housing market, and house prices bottoming out, and in some instances showing modest signs of price increases with high demand particularly in the first time buyer and mid-market sectors.

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"This has been manifested by recent house price reports, but more importantly, we have seen a significant increase in both the volume of sales, and also shorter selling time for properties."

BTW Shiells branch manager Laura-Ann Barr added: "We are very excited about our expansion into east Belfast, especially since the housing market is showing genuine signs of improvement and uplift.

"The level of our sales and lettings transactions in east Belfast has gone from strength to strength and we now feel it is extremely important to have a local, physical presence in the area to maintain our commitment and high levels of service to our vendors, landlords and purchasers.

"Living locally I have witnessed an increased activity in all aspects in east Belfast which I feel has spurred on the housing demand in the area which in turn is why we have opened our doors here."

New developments in east Belfast on sale through the new office include Coopers Mill in Dundonald the newly-released Millmount Village outside Dundonald, Lacefield on Upper Newtownards Road, Millreagh and Sandown Manor on Sandown Road.